© Reuters. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning attends a news conference in Beijing, China, February 3, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
By Brenda Goh
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that flight of a Chinese “airship” over the United States was a force majeure accident, accusing U.S. politicians and media of taking advantage of the situation to discredit China.
The United States, saying the craft was a suspected spy balloon that had committed a “clear violation” of U.S. sovereignty, postponed a visit to China by Secretary of State Antony Blinken that had been expected to start on Friday.
“China has always strictly abided by international law and respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said Beijing and Washington had not announced any visit by Blinken and that “the U.S. announcements are their own matter and we respect that”.
The ministry said in a separate statement Wang Yi, director of China’s Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, had spoken to Blinken over the phone on Friday evening and discussed how to deal with accidental incidents in a calm and professional manner.
Wang told Blinken that both parties needed to communicate in a timely manner and avoid any misjudgments, the ministry said.